The second person I want to write about is Sakura. Sakura had spent less time overseas than Ami and had returned from a couple of years in Poland, I think. Within class, Sakura was quite shy. I think, but can not know, that she has always felt a bit of an outsider. She seems to show it in her quiet, gentle way of being. She seemed to be the kind of girl who always wants to be part of the crowd. As a result, she makes friends with extreme ease. I can almost guarrantee that by the time she leaves school dhe will be one of the more popular kids in school. No, she won’t be a leader in everything she does. She will be the hidden achiever, the quiet Queen Bee. I think the world needs both of these kinds of people. I trust these particular ones immensely. I believe Ami will never lose herself and Sakura will find herself. Of course they will because they’re great. Earlier I wrote that Sakura needed to be pushed and pulled. The pushing we did as teachers came when Tominaga sensei and I organised a book club. Well, it wasn’t meant to be that, but that’s what I tried to make it. The plan was to organise a special event for the first year students of higher English ability, especially returnees. I think it was designed with these two girls in mind. I tried to open it up to students of all ages, and all abilities. I just thought that was fair. My JET (Japanese English Teacher) thought that this would create too large a group. She overestimated how much kids want to give up their little free time to talk with a gaijin (foreigner)! In the end, only Ami signed up! But we did get together a small group of students who wanted to hang out with Grant for a bit after lessons. I just played games. Simple stuff like write down three sentences about yourself, two of which are true and one of which is false. Fold the papers and put them in a hat. We then asked someone to read the sentences, and then everyone guessed whose sentence it was and which statement was false, through using a negative sentence. It was fun, I think. I love dollar bookshops and there is one on my street. In preparation for this event, I bought a $1 copy of a book called “Holes” by Louis Sachar in English. I gave it to Sakura with the idea in mind that we could make a small book club for the returnee students with Ami who had already read the book. The book group never happened and after the Summer holidays I asked Sakura how the book was. She said she had only read 3 pages! I told her, she could keep it for as long as she wanted. I wanted her to give it back to me, but I didn’t want to make her feel bad or anything. So I never asked again. The pulling came when I was asked to grade all of the first year classes English posters. The task was for the students to write a small introduction about a family member or friend. In class, the students would have class time to rewrite and decorate using photos, color pens and whatever material they had brought from home. I was so impressed with 1E. These guys are so amazing I thought. I have one little friend called Kensuke Yoshida. He’s my mate but he usually fails English. We’re friends forever and he did such a great job that I was so proud of him. Kensuke’s a little different, not a lot, just a little. It’s just in the way that he stares at people a little longer. It’s like he wants to befriend the world but he doesn’t know who to trust. Anyway, 1D, Sakura’s class didn’t use their time effectively or prepare properly. So I absolutely caned them when it came to marking. I gave people 0s which I usually don’t, just to make a point. Those kids will remember that lesson. Not the class one, just the lesson in life- sometimes what you do just isn’t good enough. Sometimes you really can’t get away with it. Sakura had drawn the most beautiful illustrations of her cousin in London, but she hadn’t rewritten so I gave her a very bad mark but wrote the nicest comments possible and asked her to listen to her teacher, Tominaga sensei. In the last week of school, Sakura gave me back the book, wrapped perfectly and said thankyou, but she didn’t get to read it. Her dedication to me reads like this, “Dear Grant, thankyou about the book and I had a good time with you and my friend’s. I wanted to raise my hand in class but I didn’t have the courage or the confidence. Sorry. I will read some English books and take TOEIC. I hope to see you again. Take care, Grant.” I am so proud of those sentences. For me they are perfect. So I wish you guys all of the best.
TO BE CONTINUED